Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cal Cup Preview: San Diego Old Aztecs

We've partnered with the Cal Cup this year and as part of that partnership we're re-posting the team by team previews they are putting up on their site. This time it's the San Diego Old Aztecs. The original can be seen here

The Cal Cup is just days away from kicking off. To help fans get prepared for the season of the season we talked with representatives from each of the six teams to find out more about what they expect from the year. In this edition we chatted with Jaco Breytenbach from the San Diego Old Aztecs.

Players Added: With being added to CalCup we've had to look at how we recruit. We teamed up with Matt Hawkins to see if there were players that he wanted to see develop and prepare for the PRO season. Through that connection we had a chance to recruit Pat Blair who's looking to improve as a hooker and loose forward in the USA setup, a young up and comer in Robert Stortz, who impressed a Kutztown and the last CRC, and we are bringing a young prop over from South Africa, Tristan Pickering, who is the Sharks academy. Through natural growth we've also added a few players. Cleeandre Ross, who played his rugby at Indiana University and Donell Washington who played for the Austin Blacks, and John Prickett who played with O-Club.  They are all exciting backs. We've also had a chance to recruit from our youth program here in San Diego and are excited to see what Jose Lugo can do. He's a tremendous talent with a bright future in the centers. Then we were also lucky enough to add another front row player in Tasi Toilolo. Who's a massive unit and will help with go forward. We're also talking to a few other players who may join us later on during Cal Cup.

Take the jump to read more.

Players Subtracted: Last year we had a couple of guest players from Northland in New Zealand. The played at number 2 and number 8. They were a great presence and will be missed. Our regular number 12 Des Wellington is also nursing an injury and we may be without him. Otherwise we have most of the squad back.

Coaching Changes: We've promoted Grant Ford to take a bigger role on the top side, and also focus on the forwards. We lost Teagan Dow and Iain Rafferty who coached last year, but decided that we would not replace them this year.

Team Leaders: Our pack is lead by our two formidable locks, Lucas Edwards and Bill Dow. They set the tone up front and help us with front foot ball. In the backs we have our number 10 Michael Deel who's grown tremendously as a player. Then we have Tim howard who can slot in at 9, 10, and 12, with a cool head and one of the smartest players I've ever seen. They will lead us around the field and be key decision makers.

Players to Watch: I look forward to Tasi Toilol, Pat Blair, and Tristan add some more bulk to our engine room. In the backs I'm excited to keep seeing Mike Deel grow, and think that Connor Mariani, Jose Lugo, and Clee Ross have some bright futures ahead of them.

Please Describe the Style You Like To Play: We like to focus on fundamentals of the game. Solid set piece, strong defense, and good decision making. We like to let the ball do he work and aren't scared to use tactical play. We take pride that when you play the Old Aztecs, you know it the next day.

Warm-up Matches: We played in the Huntington Beach Veterans Day 15's tournament and won it. We had a chance to play against 5 or so local D2 clubs from SoCal.

Please offer a paragraph on how you think your team will compete this year including strengths, weakness, and goals: We realize that we are the new kids on the block in this tournament without some of the star power of some of our opponents. We see it as a great opportunity to grow as a club and players, and believe that we will be very competitive in each game we play. Our strength comes in experience and that we can play physical rugby, while still being able to move the ball around the field. We will be very competitive in set piece, which we hope we can use to build platform and create pressure. Our weakness lies in that we haven't played at this level and it will be a step up. Our depth will also be tested if there are injuries. We are humbled and excited that we were asked to join such a great group of teams and play in this cup. 

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